The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

The ‘Tonto’ Principle March 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joel @ 10:04 pm

I’d love to hear thoughts on this,

 The Tonto Principle
by Stanley Hauerwas 

Some people think that if you have a position of Christian nonviolence, you don’t have anything to say because you’re excluded from making discriminating political judgments. In a sense that is right. I always say I represent the “Tonto principle of Christian ethics.” When Tonto and the Lone Ranger found themselves surrounded by 20,000 Sioux, the Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said, “This looks pretty tough; what do you think we ought to do?” Tonto replied, “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

The assumption is that our reaction should be one that identifies a “we” that combines both the American and the Christian. Yet “we” Christians are called to respond to this terrorizing event in a way that is different from that shaped by American presuppositions. I want to be very clear. Nothing that the United States has done in its foreign policy—and it’s done some very wicked things—can justify what was done at the World Trade Center. We have to step back and ask what we Christians have done that we find ourselves so implicated in the world that we cannot differentiate our response as God’s people from the American people’s response.


 If he is right, I will be happy.  If he is right, it will be a part of the thing which gives me hope for my life and the lives of my friends. 


2 Responses to “The ‘Tonto’ Principle”

  1. masonjars Says:

    Hey my lovely brother.
    I love this post.
    The thoughts are so good!

    thanks for your note on mine..:) those were good thoughts as well.
    Have you read Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd?
    that got me thinking a lot on what you talked about in this post.

    I just got back from Mexico yesterday. I missed having you there with the fam, but we will be together again!
    give my love to the Kate-ster.
    Much love,


  2. masonmusic Says:

    Thanks Laura. I have never read that book of Boyd’s, perhaps I should. It is a good question: “which we are we as Christians?” and “which we are we not?”

    I hope mexico was fun like the eeves of a cactus blossom.

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